MINIVAC601 (Claude Shannon)

Minivac 601 Digital Computer Kit was an electromechanical digital computer system created by information theory pioneer Claude Shannon as an educational toy using digital circuits.

There’s an evolution:
Minivac 6010:

Manuals of the Minivac 601:
(With Theory, and examples to play with the toy)
(1961) Book I:
(1961) Book II, III & IV:,3%264.pdf
(1961) Book V & VI:
(1961) Maintenance Manual:

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The 6010 was an interesting bit of marketing: essentially, raise the price, reposition, and sell more (via Wikipedia):

“…the entrepreneur’s line was the …MINIVAC 601…no one in the third segment, the corporate sector, bought the product…the corporate types was: “Oh, that—it’s just a toy!” The entrepreneur was creative and he listened carefully. He also understood marketing. His next product was the same basic kit—with the switches upgraded to higher tolerances and the machine color changed from blue and red to gunmetal gray. The name was changed to the MINIVAC 6010 and he increased the price from $79.95 to $479. The MINIVAC 6010 sold very well to the corporate segment at $479…”

Shannon’s role in the MINIVAC is not entirely clear - there’s an upcoming paper on the topic. He was involved in the GENIAC, but that was made by a different outfit, also making TYNIAC and BRAINIAC. Oh, and apparently there was a WEENIAC too.

I think I heard that UNIVAC was in danger of becoming a generic, which weakens it as a trademark, and so Sperry-Rand wanted to get the MINIVAC renamed. But I can’t find any citations on this.

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Video: Minivac 601 - Scientific Development Corporation, 1961

By: ccapitalia:
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